There are many ways to prepare for a fantasy football draft but nothing is more helpful than partaking in mock drafts when it comes to gauging where players might land in your real draft.
Anything can happen from one draft to the next and all it takes is one crazy pick to change the entire landscape. With that said, getting plenty of mock draft practice will leave owners ready for anything and prevent them from getting flustered as well.
Owners shouldn't feel forced to conform to the mock draft if their preferences are different from the norm as they simply serve as a guideline rather than set-in-stone rules to live by.
With the NFL's regular season quickly approaching, here is a closer look at what the first round of your draft could potentially look like in a standard, 12-team league.
Most Intriguing Selections
After the top five running backs come off the board, fantasy owners will have a tough decision to make. They can either continue on that running back run so as not to get left behind, or they can crack the seal on another position and secure an elite player.
The latter scenario is far more attractive, particularly with Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson on the board. Megatron is coming off a season in which he had nearly 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns. No pass-catcher in the league is more explosive or reliable, and he plays in an offense that will continue to sling the ball around.
Perhaps the one drawback when it comes to Johnson is the fact that he is often double- and even triple-teamed. In an attempt to counteract that, the Lions plan to keep the defense guessing in 2014, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com:
Joe Lombardi said we can expect Calvin Johnson to move around a lot this year. Inside and outside and motion.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) August 20, 2014
Johnson is a safer pick than essentially any other player in fantasy football, so don't hesitate to take him for one second if he is still on the board at No. 6 or later.
It was determined this offseason that Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saint is, in fact, a tight end rather than a wide receiver. That may have hurt Graham's bank account, but it is a great thing for fantasy owners looking to get a leg up on the competition.
The former Miami Hurricane is far and away the best pass-catching tight end in football, and he has broken the mold in terms of first-round consideration. The gap between Graham and his tight end counterparts is so wide that everyone else in the league will be playing catch-up to match the owner who selects him.
There are certainly differing opinions regarding whether or not it is wise to use such an early pick on a position that has often been a fantasy afterthought over the years, but Jeff Agrest of the Chicago Sun-Times views it as a no-brainer.
Once (Johnson and Peyton Manning are) off the board, take Graham. He might have lost his grievance to be viewed as a wide receiver, but he ranks with the best at that position. His 211 standard-scoring points last season would have ranked fourth among wideouts, behind the Browns' Josh Gordon, the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas and Johnson.
The difference between the No. 6 running back and the backs that are available in the second round may not be significant. Running backs have such a high bust rate as well, which makes taking them early quite risky. There is no risk involved with Graham, so rest easy if you select him.
Which player would you most like to have on your fantasy team?
Drafting at the end of the first round provides fantasy owners with opportunities galore. It may not seem ideal on the surface, but elite players like wide receiver Dez Bryant or quarterback Drew Brees are options. Even more intriguing than them, however, is Denver Broncos second-year running back Montee Ball.
Since Knowshon Moreno is now with the Miami Dolphins, the starting job belongs to Ball in Denver. Being Manning's running back is a sweet gig, especially in fantasy terms. Not only does he look to his backs often in the passing game, but Manning isn't shy about calling run plays in the red zone, either.
All of that bodes well for Ball, although there are some risks involved, as well. According to ESPN's Field Yates, Ball just returned to action after getting an appendectomy:
RB Montee Ball, 19 days after having an appendectomy, touches the ball on each of the first 5 plays for Denver's offense.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 24, 2014
With that said, the Broncos didn't waste any time getting involved. Most encouragingly, Ball has the makings of a monster season in point-per-reception leagues especially. As pointed out by Brad Evans of Yahoo Sports, Ball was a pass-catching fiend in his first preseason game of 2014:
Most interesting development of Broncos' first drive wasn't Peyton's perfection, but Montee Ball's 4 catches for 21 yards. Kid can catch.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) August 24, 2014
Knowing what Moreno did in Denver last year, Ball is definitely worth rolling the dice on. Provided he is able to stay healthy, it is difficult to imagine the Wisconsin product not having a successful campaign.
Potential Fantasy Team Names
Eat. Sleep. Gronk-uer. Repeat.
This name may not register for some, but it will click for wrestling fans immediately. Brock Lesnar recently defeated John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam in dominant fashion.
Cena has captivated fans with his message of hustle, loyalty and respect, but Lesnar lives by the notion of "Eat. Sleep. Conquer. Repeat."
Fantasy owners can only hope that their level of success will rival Lesnar's, and they can pay homage to the new champ, particularly if they end up with New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski on their team.
Luck Be a Lacy
Is it possible to fit two elite fantasy players and the title of a Frank Sinatra song into one fantasy team name? Yep.
It may take some good fortune to end up with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy on the same team, but that team's success will certainly be predicated on skill far more than serendipity.
Bell of the Ball
For owners selecting late in the first round, one potentially intriguing option is to select Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell and Broncos running back Montee Ball in the first two rounds.
The second-year backs each seem poised for true breakout campaigns in 2014 as the primary rushers for their respective teams. Bell of the Ball may seem like a classy name on the surface, but there won't be any etiquette involved when you're crushing your opponents.
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